Around 9:50 p.m. last Wednesday in Hunstville, Alabama, 57-year-old Roy Brown and his 32-year-old son, Jay, were both working at the same IHOP franchise location. They’d served countless customers before – especially Roy, who loved working in the restaurant industry and had even met his wife of 34 years while they were both working at IHOP. This time, though, an everyday interaction took an unforgettable, tragic turn.
25-year-old Roderick Turner walked into the IHOP to pick up a to-go order. Unbeknownst to Roy and Jay, Turner had been charged three times before with assault involving a firearm – but because his previous victims were unwilling to come forward to testify, he was never convicted.
As people with patterns of violence are wont to do, Turner started out acting relatively normal. However, instead of picking up his order and leaving, he became loud and disruptive, resulting in a fast-escalating dispute with Roy and Jay over the food service. He then walked out of the restaurant, retrieved a handgun from his car, came back in and started shooting, hitting both Jay and his father. As quickly as he could, Jay drew his concealed handgun and returned fire. Turner died at the scene.
Jay and his dad were both rushed to the hospital with gunshot wounds, but only Jay pulled through.
“He was the fun uncle… [and he] loved IHOP,” said Roy’s niece, Kimberly Lang, after Roy’s death. “You couldn’t ask for a better person to serve you.”
This isn’t the first loss her family has endured in the past year, and it’s taught them all some difficult lessons. “Don’t let your loved ones walk out that door without saying that you love them,” Kimberly said. “Because you don’t know when you are going to see them.”
Employees, too, are coming together to remember how much they loved working with Roy.
“I had run out of gas in the parking lot of taco bell,” said one former employee who worked for Roy. “Out of kindness, and I think it was his very last, he gave me $10 to put in my gas tank.”
This is a good, if painful, reminder that if you are the victim or witness of an assault, you could prevent senseless suffering by stepping forward to help convict the assailant.